“You have to really focus on the sexual side of the world,” said Rudy Colombini, the lead singer and founder of The Unauthorized Rolling Stones, who will perform at John Ascuaga’s Nugget on Friday. “That’s what Mick does.”
With songs such as “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” “Brown Sugar” and the innuendo-laden rock anthem “Satisfaction” entrenched in music culture, there is little argument that The Rolling Stones are a band born below the waist. When it comes to performing their music and recreating their vibe, longtime musician Colombini said he and the group’s other performers must tap into a primal urge that is a constant undercurrent in Rolling Stones songs.
When everything clicks, he said, the audience and the band have a collective “sex attack.”
Colombini first took the stage as Mick Jagger in 2001. The San Franciscan formed the tribute band after his own group, the Rudy Colombini Band, was dropped from its label in the late 1990s. Colombini had a couple of Adult Contemporary hits under his belt and with plenty of music left in him he found himself without an outlet. That’s when he discovered there were gigs to be had playing the music of The Rolling Stones.
Musically, it wasn’t much of far a leap for Colombini, whose own style is “classic rock somewhere between John Lennon and Bob Dylan,” as he put it. The 57-year-old Colombini cites his own musical influences as spanning from The Beatles to the Smashing Pumpkins, but when he made the transition to tribute band he needed to add performing to his repertoire.
“When I play my own music it is a lot easier for me to play because I wrote it and I am geared for it. It is exactly what my voice wants to do,” Colombini said. “When I do the Stones, I have to get into character.”
Rounding out the group are several longtimers and and a couple of newbies.
Mark Banning has been the guitarist for The Unauthorized Rolling Stones for 10 years. He is a virtuoso, Colombini said, so much so that it is difficult to keep him in “Stones mode” and not wander into Jeff Beck or Eric Clapton territory. Kenny Crampton, the group’s bassist, has played with Colombini in various groups for about two decades and drummer Jeff Irving has been with the group for two years.
The other major personality of the band, that of guitarist Keith Richards, was taken on about eight months ago by Ken Khristian. Colombini said he heard about Kristian from a friend who told him there was a guy out there playing Rolling Stones music with a passion and an edge, albeit a hit heavier than the original sound. So, he went to see him and was very impressed with Khristian’s energy, which Colombini said complemented his own Jagger swagger.
“He looks like Keith Richards,” Colombini said. “He’s always been, give or take, Keith without doing Keith.”
With the right haircut, Colombini also has the added benefit of an uncanny likeness to Jagger.
“Unfortunately,” he joked about his similar appearance to the Stones’ lead singer. “It’s not (a compliment) but that’s OK.”
An attractive Mick Jagger, we’ll say.
The Unauthorized Rolling Stones perform at 9 p.m. Friday in the Celebrity Showroom at John Ascuaga’s Nugget. Tickets cost $10. For more show information, visit www.janugget.com. For more on The Unauthorized Rolling Stones, visit http://theunauthorizedrollingstones.us.